ULS Appoints Rev. Dr. Teresa L. Smallwood, Esq., to the James Franklin Kelly and Hope Eyster Kelly Professorship in Public Theology

The Rev. Dr. R. Guy Erwin, President of United Lutheran Seminary, is pleased to announce the appointment of Rev. Dr. Teresa L. Smallwood, Esq. as the James Franklin Kelly and Hope Eyster Kelly Associate Professor of Public Theology. Dr. Smallwood’s appointment is effective July 1.

“I am joyful and excited about Dr. Teresa Smallwood joining our faculty at ULS,” said President Erwin. “She brings so many gifts we need, and so much potential to be a transformative member of a dynamic and changing institution. I look forward to working with her closely, as together we dream of a new kind of seminary education—one that takes our theological reflection beyond the dimension of tradition more deeply into the realities of our public life as religious leaders, and toward greater justice and equity."

Dr. Smallwood has served as Postdoctoral Fellow and Associate Director of the Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative at Vanderbilt Divinity School since 2017. She has taught at Lancaster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, Religious Freedom Center in Washington, D.C., Chicago Theological Seminary and Philander Smith College in Little Rock, AR.

She began her legal career with Legal Services of the Southern Piedmont in Charlotte, NC, where she also worked as a staff attorney for the Children’s Law Center. In 1989, she served as an Assistant District Attorney until she commenced her private practice that spanned more than two decades. Dr. Smallwood was born in Windsor, NC and earned her B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a major in Speech Communications and Afro-American Studies; M.Div. from Howard University; J.D. from North Carolina Central University; and Ph.D. in Theology, Ethics, and Human Sciences from Chicago Theological Seminary. Her dissertation was entitled, “The Leprosy Effect: A Queer Womanist Pastoral Care Model. Comprehensive Examinations: Womanist and Feminist Theology and Ethics; Black Church Tradition: Race, Gender and Sexuality; Emmanuel Levinas; Africana Pastoral Theology; 20th c. Theology, Ethnography, Spanish, French.”

Dr. Smallwood was licensed and ordained to public ministry while serving Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Lewiston, NC. She is a member at New Covenant Christian Church in Nashville, TN. She has published extensively, including book chapters “Race, Law, and Religious Freedom,” in African Americans and Religious Freedom: New Perspectives for Congregations and Communities, “Who Defines the Religious Narrative? The Old Guard Meets the Avant-garde in Nashville—The ‘It’ City,” in The Routledge Handbook of Religion and Cities and is currently working on a book under review for publication, The Bully Pulpit: Queer and Black in Church. She has presented numerous papers and lectures and served as a panelist at Morgan State University, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Vanderbilt University, Children’s Defense Fund Proctor Conference, Chicago Theological Seminary and Oxford University, among others.

The James Franklin Kelly and Hope Eyster Kelly Chair was established through an anonymous bequest in memory of James, a 1920 graduate of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, Rev. Kelly died in 1983 and his wife in 1973.

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